7 Methods to Remove Wax from Wood

I’ll warn you now – I personally guarantee that the methods that you’re about to learn for how to remove wax from wood will work!

See, I’ve struggled sorely with trying to get wax accidents AND finishes off of wood surfaces. One tough case in particular was candle wax on my wooden tabletop. Though, I’ve also battled to get wax off of my hardwood floors.

I feel more than qualified to guide you through this process. Should you have any other questions after reading this, please refer to my FAQ section at the end of this article.

I promise you that your issues are soon to be gone, and your wooden table or floor, wax-free.

The solution:

Below, I’m going to be taking you through exactly how to remove candle wax from wood.

There are a variety of different methods that you can try out. Just be sure to choose the one that works best for you and your situation.

Bear in mind that these don’t just work for candle wax. You’ll also discover how to remove furniture wax from wood!

The Challenges

cleaning the wood floor

Wax is tough to get off of surfaces. Once it has hardened, it feels almost impossible.

Here’s more:

Sometimes it feels like you’re getting it off, but then you realize that you’re close to damaging the wood, if you haven’t already.

I assure you that the methods that I’m going to mention will not do this. I can assure you that not only will they not damage the wood, but that they’re the most effective ways of removing wax from wood.

I’ll answer your many questions, including what solvent will dissolve wax (hint: click on the link).

Point of interest:

Have you ever wondered why candle wax dries so quickly? It’s because candle wax has a melting point of 99° F.

When the wax is exposed to any temperature below that, it becomes a solid.

That said, not all candles melt at 99° F. Candles made of soy wax melt at 120° F, and beeswax candles melt at 145° F.

Before I start, doesn’t this tell you that heat might be how to remove melted wax from wood? Don’t worry, though. I’ll get to how to do this soon enough.

A solution:

Now that you know just why wax forms the way it does, you may still be wondering how you can remove it.

A simple, quick, and easy solution is to scrape away the wax using any plastic object with a sharp edge. Just be careful not to damage the wood while scraping the wax off.

However:

This method will not work for everyone, and there are several more thorough ways of going about it. From now on, I’m going to be looking at those specifically.

You’ll find out how to remove wax buildup from wood floor in no time.

Do it Yourself: Removing Wax from Wood

The Water & Spirits Method

What you’ll need:

  • Two cloths (or a mop if you’re looking to remove wax off of a wooden floor)
  • Mineral spirits
  • Warm water

Step 1: Wipe the Table/Mop the Floor

This’ll help clean off any residue on the surface.

Step 2: Pour Some Spirits

Pour a decent amount of mineral spirits onto the area, and then start applying pressure to the wax using the cloth/mop.

Step 3: Dry the Area

Use a dry cloth/mop to remove the spirits and water from the area.

Step 4: Repeat as Needed

If you find that there’s still some wax, repeat from step 2.

Use Some Heat, Get a Hairdryer

If you’re wondering how to remove wax from a wood table, a hairdryer will work. Heat works to return the wax to a liquid state. You’ll also need a tablecloth.

Step 1: Using the Dryer

Plug the dryer in and hold it away from the wax at approximately 3 inches away. Be sure to keep it above the wax. Move it around slightly until the wax begins to soften.

Step 2: Use a Cloth

using cloth to remove wax

Press the cloth into the wax, and wipe away at the wax. Dab when needed. Be careful when wiping as well, as you may end up spreading the wax elsewhere.

Step 3: Reuse the Hairdryer

If you find that some wax didn’t turn to liquid, you can always turn the hairdryer back on.

What About the Hot Iron and Paper Trick?

Aside from the hairdryer as a heat source, you can also use an iron and pieces cut out from a brown paper grocery bag.

The idea is simple:

Lay the paper over the wax, then run your iron over the top of the paper on a moderate setting like permanent press.

As the wax melts, it will literally melt up and into the paper. Since the paper is somewhat porous, the wax easily sticks to the paper.

What’s left is a clean wood surface. Just be careful not to get the wood (or paper) too hot! Just go back and forth quickly, and you’ll get enough heat to do the job.

The Ice Cube Method

No, this method doesn’t involve playing the artist’s latest hits, though if you enjoy his music, you can always load up YouTube.

This technique will work if you want to know how to remove wax from wood floors.

You’ll need:

  • Ice cubes
  • A sharp plastic object

Step 1: Hardening the Wax

Instead of melting the wax, you’re going to be hardening it. This’ll make it easier to scrape off afterward.

Step 2: Get Scraping

Using your plastic object (preferably something like a ruler), you should start chipping away at a particular side of the wax.

Step 3: Repeat as Needed

You can repeat this method as often as it takes to remove. The only issue I have with this method, although it works, is that it requires too much grit.

Trust me, I know.

Use Some Vinegar

If your issue is that you want to know how to remove floor wax from wood floors, this method will help you.

If you’re wondering, “will vinegar dissolve wax,” yes, it definitely will.

What to get:

  • A hairdryer
  • White vinegar (or ammonia)
  • Two cloths
  • A plastic scraper

Step 1: Heat the Wax

hairdryer

First, you need to soften the wax using the hairdryer. Remember to hold it about 3 inches away.

Step 2: Scrape it Off

This is the gritty part – work at it as much as you can.

Step 3: Water & Vinegar (Water & Ammonia)

Make use of a water and vinegar solution. Dip a cloth into the solution, and wipe it over the remaining wax. This should be pretty effective.

You can always make use of ammonia instead of vinegar. That is if you don’t mind using chemicals or the smell.

Step 4: Dry the Area

Dry the area as needed, and repeat any of the steps you wish to until the wax is completely gone.

If All Else Fails: Other Alternatives

I don’t want to mention these options explicitly, but they are available if you’re battling to remove the wax.

Paint Thinner

Does paint thinner remove wax? Yes, you can use it to remove wax, though I’d be cautious about using it as it is flammable.

This’ll work well when trying to determine how to remove hair removal wax from wood.

Wax Remover and Dissolver

A great adhesive remover is Goo Gone Pro-Power. It’s available to buy online.

You might be wondering: “It’s an adhesive remover. Does Goo Gone remove wax, though?”

Yes, this particular brand works well for, say, getting carpet glue off of wood, but it also works extremely well for tough, stuck-on wax. You can even read about this in the product description.

I’ve used it before. I just prefer to use “home remedies” and stuff without chemicals if I can. But when it’s called for, you gotta go with what works!

Here’s more:

If you’re curious about what wax remover is best for wood – this product is safe to use for delicate and/or valuable wood surfaces, including historic wood floors you’re refinishing.

Something to Think About

Since we’re on the topic of wax:

There are many different ways that you can make use of your leftover candle wax. This short video will take you through three different smart ways to make use of it.

FAQs

What if candle wax has discolored or stained the wood, such as red candle wax on my tabletop?

You can use various cleaning products (particularly a baking soda and white vinegar mix) to get rid of the dye that may have left a colored residue.

Once done, be sure to look into sealing your wood to help protect from any future accidents.

Can Windex, rubbing alcohol, or WD 40 help strip wax on wood?

Yes, you can also make use of these products to get wax off of wood if you don’t or can’t easily use the heat method.

In my experience, these aren’t as affective but are easy to try as a first course since you most likely have them around your house.

Can I paint over old wax on wood if I don’t get it all off?

You should ideally not paint over old wax, since the paint will not stick to it easily.

You’ll be able to get the wax off if you use the above methods, so there’s no need to try it and see that it’s not going to work out for you!

Will these methods work on laminate or pergo flooring?

This depends. Wood vs laminate floors may be visually similar but laminates have coatings that make it hard for substances to stick to them.

Try some of the less abrasive and no-chemicals approaches first on laminates.

Try Different Methods

remove wax from wood

I can’t stress this enough, if you did not have success with one of the methods mentioned, try another.

I assure you that they work. Although, I always tell people that they need to find a solution that works for them as wood surfaces and waxes can vary.

That’s why I’ve written about so many options on how to remove candle wax from wood. Keep at it. I know you’ll get it right.